Page images

And many a ladye there was sette,

In purple and in pall;
But fair Christabelle, so woe-begone,

Was the fairest of them all.

Then many a knighte was mickle of might

Before his ladye gay; But a stranger knighte whom no man knew,

He wan the prize each day.
His acton it was all of black,

His hawberke and his shield;
And no man wist whence he did come,
And no man knew whence he did gone,

When they came from the field.
And now three days were prestlye* past

In feats of chivalrye,
When lo, upon the fourth morninge,

A sorrowful sight they see:
A hugye giant stiffe and starke,

All foule of limbe and lere,
Twa goggling eyen, like fire farden,

A mouth from eare to eare.

Before him came a dwarf full low,

That waited on his knee;
And at his back five heads he bore,

All wan and pale of blee.
“Sir," quoth the dwarf, and louted low,

“Behold that hend+ Soldain! Behold these heads I bear with me!

They are knights which he hath slain. “Prestlye :" quickly. + “Hend :" courteous.

“ The Eldritch knight is his own cousine,

Whom a knight of thine hath shent; And he is to come to avenge


wrong : And to thee, all thy knights among,

Defiance here hath sent.

“But yet he will appease his wrath,

Thy daughter's love to win;
And but thou yield him that fayre mayde,

Thy halls and towers must brenne.*
“ Thy head, sir king, must go with me,

Or else thy daughter dear :
Or else within these lists soe broad,

Thou must find him a peer.”
The king he turned him round about,

And in his heart was woe : “ Is there never a knighte of my round table

This matter will undergo ? “Is there never a knight amongst ye all

Will fight for my daughter and me? Whoever will fight yon grim Soldan,

Right fair his meede shall be. “For he shall have my broad lay-lands,

And of my crown be heyre ;
And he shall win fair Christabelle

To be his wedded fere."
But every knight of his round table

Did stand both still and pale ;
For, whenever they look'd on the grim Soldan,

It made their hearts to quail.

* " Brenne :” burn.

All woe-begone was that fayre ladye,

When she saw no help was nigh:
She cast her thought on her own true love,

And the tears gusht from her eye.

Up then stert the stranger knighte,

Sayde, Ladye, be not afraid ;
I'll fight for thee with this grim Soldan,

Though he's unmacklye * made.

And if thou wilt lend me the Eldritch sword

That lyeth within thy bowre,
I trust in Christ for to slaye this fiend,

Though he be stiff and stowre.”

“Goe fetch him down the Eldritch sword,”

The king he cried, “ with speed :
Nowe, Heaven assist thee, courteous knight;

My daughter is thy meed."
The giant, he stepped into the lists,

And said, “Away! away!
I sweare, as I am the hend Soldan,

Thou lettest + me here all day!”

Then forth the stranger knight he came,

In his black armour dight; The ladye sighed a gentle sigh,

“That this were my true knight!”

And now the giant and knight be met,

Within the lists sae broad;
And now, with swords soe sharp of steel,

They gan to lay on load. * “Unmacklye:” misshapen. 7 "Lettest:" hinderest. The Soldan struck the knight a stroke

That made him reel aside ;
Then woe-begone was that fayre ladye,

And thrice she deeply sighd.

The Soldan struck a second stroke,

And made the bloude to flow;
All pale and wan was that ladye fayre,

And thrice she wept for woe.

The Soldan struck a third fell stroke,

Which brought the knight on his knee: Sad sorrow pierced that ladye's heart,

And she shriekt loud shriekings three.

The length he leapt upon his feet,

All reckless of the pain ;
Quoth he, “But Heaven be now my speede,

Or else I shall be slain.”

He grasped his sword with mayne and mighte,

And spying a secret part,
He drove it into the Soldan's side,

And pierced him to the heart.

Then all the people gave a shout,

When they saw the Soldan fall; The ladye wept and thanked Christ,

That had rescued her from thrall.

And now the king, with all his barons,


from off his seat, And down he stepped into the lists,

That courteous knighte to greet:

But he, for pain and lacke of bloude,

Was fallen into a swound,
And there, all waltering in his gore,

Lay lifeless on the ground.

“Come down, come down, my daughter dear,

Thou art a leech of skill;
Far liefer had I lose half my lands,

Than this good knight should spille.”

Down then steppeth that fayre ladye,

To help him if she may; But when she did his beaver raise, “It is my life, my lord !” she says,

And shriekt and swound away.

Sir Cauline just lift up his eyes,

When he heard his ladye cry: “O ladye, I am thine own true love; For thee I wisht to dye.”

Then giving her one parting look,

He closed his eyes in death, Ere Christabelle, that ladye mild,

Began to draw her breath.

But when she found her comelye knight

Indeed was dead and gone,
She laid her pale, cold cheek to his,

And thus she made her moan :

“O stay, my dear and only lord,

For me, thy faithfulle feere ; 'Tis meet that I sholde follow thee,

Who hast bought my love soe dear!”

« PreviousContinue »